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Friday, April 07, 2017

Generation Us: Artificial intelligence may help combat isolation | The Daily Progress - Lifestyles

Photo: David McNair
"When we complain, feel lonely or are going through a hard time, it’s often said that all we really need is someone to listen to us, not try to fix things for us. Something like “I hear what you’re saying” or “I support you 100 percent” will often work wonders, despite how robotic the supportive listener might feel the offering to be." notes David McNair, as handles publicity, marketing, media relations and social media efforts for the Jefferson Area Board for Aging.

Well, then, what if an actual robot were offering this kind of emotional support? Could it be as effective as a human listener?

ElliQ is a robotic companion that helps the elderly remain active and engaged  

According to an Israeli research study completed last year, the answer is yes.

Study participants were asked to tell a personal story to a small desktop robot. Half the participants spoke to a robot that was unresponsive, while the other half spoke to a robot who responded with supportive comments and common gestures of understanding and sympathy, like nodding and turning to look the participant in the eye. Researchers found that people can develop attachments to responsive robots, and they have the same feelings and response behaviors they would have had if the listener had been human.

Rapid advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics technology is creating all kinds of possibilities, and raising all kinds of questions, too. However, researchers are discovering that this new technology could most help most those who understand it the least: older adults.

“Technologies like Siri and Alexa already exist that can help provide a natural language interface to online resources and that don’t require keyboard skills or computer literacy,” said Richard Adler, a distinguished research fellow at the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, California, and a nationally recognized expert on the relationship between technology and aging. “As this kind of technology becomes more powerful, it will become easier to use and more helpful.”

In other words, Mom and Dad can interact with technology the same way they would with family and friends.

“There are also interesting experiments underway to use AI for predictive monitoring that can do things like detect changes in gait that could signal a greater risk of falling,” Adler said.

At Standford University, there’s a special Artificial Intelligence Assisted Care Research Program in which researchers are developing AI technology that can monitor seniors in their homes using multiple sensors to detect lifestyle patterns, physical movements, vital signs — even emotions — and then use that data to accurately access the senior’s health, safety and well-being.

Source: The Daily Progress and The Last News Channel (YouTube)